Archive for March, 2010

Bathing in the Falaj

A Falaj, in Oman, is an irrigation system used for agriculture and domestic use. Many of you would see these at some districts in Oman, such as Sama’il, Al Rustaq, Jabal Al Akhdar, Bahla, etc.

Bathtime in Wadi Fanja, Oman (c) Christian Fenwick

When I used to be a kid, my mother would take us to the Falaj to bathe. Now, in the 1980’s, people still didn’t have full bathrooms in their clay houses. So, we used to go to the Falaj, and it was fun. The women’s Falaj is usually enclosed within clay walls. Only women are allowed to go inside. You can usually tell where the women’s Falaj is located verses the men’s. The men’s Falaj is usually next to a Mosque. The women’s is usually further away and is totally enclosed between clay or cement walls.

We used to be very shy girls, not used to bathing in public. Even though we managed to clean ourselves properly, we would bathe with our pants and shirts on.  However, other women wouldn’t. Some would take their scarves and tie it on the nails sticking out of the walls making a small partition where they can wash “properly”. Other women were less shy. Though I preferred not to talk to them or look them in the eye when they asked me “How are you doing?”, it was considered normal for women to be nude in the Falaj. They still somehow managed to keep their privacy intact.

There was of course the other part of the Falaj. The “matrab” is where women go to get rid of their bodily waste. This place is an open space. I remember always being uncomfortable walking around that open space trying to find a “clean” spot. If you wonder about all that waste, well, local men come in to gather it either once or twice a week and use it as a fertilizer. Yea, those days nothing was just waste. Anyway, as I think of it now I think it is interesting how female-to-female nudity in Oman was culturally acceptable (not as much anymore).

As for men, on the other hand, you can never catch two nude males at the same place. It was and will never be accepted. The men’s Falaj has a couple of small partitions to segregate the men from being nude together. I remember my uncle getting a beating from my grandfather for being impatient (he wanted to perform the Wudu before prayer, and there were no empty spots) and invading another man’s privacy. It is considered offensive. If they are in a public Falaj (similar to the kids in the picture above) then they are usually wearing shorts.

Today, men still sometimes bathe at the Falaj. However, for women it is almost a lost tradition. The Falaj that I used to go to is still used for washing dishes and clothes, but you never see it crowded with women bathing. The walls of the “Matrab” had fallen down as people these days enjoy the privacy of going to the toilet at their own houses. Female tourists from other (more conservative) towns in Oman are no longer shocked with the view of nude women chitchatting together.


Read Full Post »

Glimpses of Work

Every day as I walk up the stairs towards the kitchen, I glimpse at our receptionist (we absolutely hate each other) and look at her screen. If she is not watching a youtube clip or an Arabic show, then she is definitely reading at some forum. You can see all the latest styles of abayas as you come down or go up the stairs. It shocks me sometimes that she is not fired yet, but I guess she owes that to the Ministry of Manpower. There are times when the phone rings, and she just waves her hand at it with disgust as if saying “shut the F… UP”.

She does that too along with slurring racist comments to our "bad" clients

One thing happened today, which is the first since I started working here, is that I got a present from a client. I definitely don’t feel comfortable holding that small green bag that has an Arabic fragrance oil and a necklace with the engraving “Allah is great”. Of course I said “No” but he just dropped it on my desk and left. I’ve never seen this client before, but the gift makes me wonder if he also has another gift set that is meant for a male. Ohh well, I guess this little green bag will be put away in a drawer somewhere. Maybe under the quality control reports?

My boss just arrived at work and has a stack of papers with him. He is going to lock himself into a small room and read for a while (he is taking online courses). One of the papers is an astrology overview of his son’s welfare. Apparently, his fourteen year old son has bad grades and my boss is worried. So he went online and paid this guy some money to prepare an overview of how the son’s life will end up. “The major problem is that he doesn’t listen to his mom and has bad grades”, he said to me while flipping through the papers. Well, that is not such a huge surprise since he is a teenager and has seizures every once in a while where his memory gets wiped out. Apparently the summary says he will start doing better once he reaches the age of twenty. I’m not really a believer (the disclaimer states that personal choice plays a big part on whether this overview will be true or not), but I really hope his son gets better. Oh, you need the birth date and exact time for this forecasting to be at least 85% true.  

 And just a quick note: for those who are thinking about getting the iPad, how about you look at the other option (HP Slate) and compare specs.

Read Full Post »

I thought I was just going to ignore all the comments I have been getting from some readers (a cause from someone posting my blog on their facebook) that either know the DJ at Park Inn or are just offended from a previous post I wrote called “Are Black Omanis Dumb?“. Well, today I received an e-mail from the DJ herself requesting that I remove her name from the post (I had to, she said plz). I realize that this has become a larger issue than just me venting on my blog about the Hotel’s loud music. Therefore, I decided to write this update so that my haters can have an update on the issue since I deleted all their comments and they are left with no response.

They were similar messages to this with a lot of name calling of course!

I will just post my reply to the DJ:

I would most delightedly remove your name from the post. However, I would like to explain to you that my post was not directed to you personally, as when I wrote the post, I did not know you even existed. So, you should not take it personal. Also, Park Inn is located on a higher ground and is a high building. The problem with that is that the sound travels sometimes further than what you expect because there are no other higher buildings in front of it that would block the sound. Also, many people work on Thrusdays and sometimes the sound becomes too annoying and harder to handle.

About my post on “Are black Omanis dumb?” I would like you to read that post one more without that anger that you have on you right now. Once you do that, you will realize (as did the commentators) that I was discussing an issue in Oman where regular Omanis always use the phrase that black Omanis are dumb, and what I did was to explain their role (the post was specific to ex-slaves) in our society and that saying black Omanis are dumb is in itself a dumb statement. Also, I was inspired to write that post after reading an article about IQ’s of blacks vs. whites, which discuss a similar issue. Therefore, I do not understand that storm of anger that is directed towards that particular post. If anything, I think I have the right to discuss issues such as racism and equality in Oman, as I think they are important and not because I am racist.

Oh, and I really didn’t mind the extra hits I’ve been getting 😉

Have fun!

Now, if you guys want your comments to be approved, use a better language and everyone will hear your point of view!

Read Full Post »

Oman vs. Kuwait

Alright people, I just wanted to show you all these pictures of early preparations for the football match between Oman and Kuwait. It will start today at 7:30pm. So, go and have fun.

Today I was coming back from work at 3:30 and got stuck on the road. People were coming out of everywhere. It was nice to see all the creativity in their costumes 🙂 One girl had her face fully covered with her scarf, yet she still managed to wear the red, green, and white scarf around her neck! Other girls were wearing some wild outfits… over all every one, no fear…. it is PACKED!

Have fun!

Read Full Post »

Little Bits Here and There..

Alright, I don’t have much to say that would come out as a single post.. so here’s whats’ on my mind:

– I’ve been getting loads of hate mail (comments) lately from a certain group who seem to dislike my post on Park Inn’s loud music. The FACT is.. people.. Park Inn is LOUD.. not always though. When I posted about it, it was loud about three times a week. And DARLINGS… if I complain about it, then it is LOUD. So that “immature” picture is still VALID.. and I would post it again here if I didn’t feel it would be redundant! love the fact that I’m getting more hits though! Thanx whoever for posting it on your Facebook!

Nadia,  Dhofari Gucci, has a really interesting post on sacrifice rituals practiced in Dhofar. Nothing of that sort happens in my part of the region, but I find it interesting how we “humans” categorize rituals. For example, we glorify and are deeply humbled by the story of Abraham and his attempt to sacrifice his son to Allah. That exact same story, if believed by another religion, would sound pagan and barbaric to us. However, we sacrifice a cattle every year to Allah in its honor, and to many of us it is a blessing. So, maybe we need to be a bit humble and tolerate other religions because at the end, they are not that different from ours.

– Now, this is just out there, but I am excited about the up-coming Windows Phone 7. If you have not heard of it before, then you should read a bit about it. I really don’t feel like buying an iPhone (not an apple fan) so I hope this is a great alternative. The fact that my B promised to get me one is not the only reason I’m excited about it coming out (partly the reason), but it’s currently the buzz right now in the gadget world.

– Just a note to all readers, Other Oman would like you all to participate on her poll on thefts in Oman.

– Ohh, some local news you will not hear anywhere else.. a mom died last night from a heart attack because her son rushed into the house drunk while the cops were following him. I wonder about her last thoughts.. “my son is drunk!! COPS!! did he KILL someone!!!!????” .. maybe? Poor mom, may Allah rest her soul in peace…

Read Full Post »